COVID-19 And Your Tenancy
Each week on Thursdays, between 9-10AM, we join The Law Society’s #SolicitorChat on Twitter to answer questions about various legal matters, with this week’s subject being COVID-19 and Tenancy.
Twitter handle @SolicitorChat asks:
“With more people staying at home in line with the Government guidelines on Coronavirus, many people have questions about their rights as a tenant. But what is a notice for possession? And what can someone do if they are unable to pay their rent due to issues relating to Coronavirus?”
The questions explored in today’s chat are listed below, with fuller answers than appear during the Twitter chat from our Head of Property, Brandon Titterington.
What is a notice for possession and what does this mean for a tenant?
This is the first step in a landlord seeking to recover possession of the property. Once the notice period has expired, the landlord can apply to court for a possession order. Due to the Coronavirus position, there is currently some protection for a tenant against eviction. At least 3 months’ notice is required before a landlord can bring proceedings for possession. If a tenant receives a notice for possession, but wants to remain in the property, it may be worth seeking legal advice as to whether the notice is actually valid and enforceable.
Does a tenant need to pay their rent if they have been financially impacted by Coronavirus?
A tenant does not have an automatic right for a temporary rent freeze or reduction. If a tenant is struggling, it makes sense to discuss the position with landlord to see if an agreement can be reached.
What can a tenant do if they are unable to pay their rent due to issues relating to Coronavirus?
Again it makes sense for a tenant to discuss the position with landlord if they are unable to meet the rent payments. If no agreement can be reached, there is protection for a tenant against eviction. At least 3 months notice is required before a landlord can bring proceedings for possession. Any existing eviction proceedings have been postponed until at least the 25th June.
Can someone leave their tenancy agreement early due to issues relating to Coronavirus?
Once again it makes sense to discuss the position with landlord. There is no right for the tenant to end the tenancy during its fixed term. It may be that the landlord could be persuaded to accept a surrender of the tenancy to bring it to an end early, but there is no obligation to do so and it may be that a landlord wants some form of financial compensation in order to agree a surrender.
Does a landlord still need to make repairs to a property during lockdown?
Yes, repair obligations still apply. Any work should be carried out within a reasonable period of time. The limitations imposed by lockdown mean that it may be reasonable in the circumstances if repairs are delayed and take longer than they would have done pre-lockdown.
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